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In The Lead …

  • May 2nd, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

sarkhozy.jpgIn the French Presidential elections Nicolas Sarkhozy has maintained a comfortable lead in polling since early February.

He has taken hits from candidates eliminated in the first round of voting on 22.4.07 but looks to be holding onto solid backing for the run-off this Sunday (6.5.07).

Opinion polls taken by a number of separate organisations each day suggest that the dye was cast after Mr Sarkhozy, the tough talking French Minister of the Interior was nominated as candidate of the conservative party in government, the UMP.

The margin is usually quoted at 53-54% against 46-47% for the Socialist Party’s (PS) Segolene Royal.

On the first election night small left wing parties commanding a little over 9% of votes declared support for Ms Royal.

Last weekend the PS candidate held a public debate with Francois Bayrou, leader of the centre-right UDF, who got 18% of votes in the first round. He did not make a declaration but gave enough nuanced support to Ms Royal that some polls detected a small shift towards her among his supporters. The effect could be to provide the PS with a slight majority of UDF preferences.

On Tuesday (1.5.07) the right-wing nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen staged a rally of his National Front (FN), parading in Paris from a starting point in the place St Augustin, at the foot of a statue of Jeanne d’Arc. He has been riled at Sarkhozy “stealing some of his clothes”, on immigration, and called on his supporters — over 9% of the total in the first round — to abstain.

On paper that would look like a blow against Nicolas Sazhozy; Le Pen backers would generally back the right wing.

There is an “anybody but Sarkhozy” element to the campaign manipulations of the last ten days, amid criticism of the man’s abrasive nature.

Yet the polls have been constant and the margin fairly large.

He is seen as the better economic manager to deal with high unemployment; his fairly neo-liberal proposals for less-tax-more-work go down at least as well as the Socialist Party’s more status quo economic stance.

While 14-16% of voters have been declining to declare their preference, there is no indication that they will vote, or vote in any large numbers for Segolene Royal.

French voters have produced surprises in the past; a change this time would warrant a major surprise.

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